Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),
Here comes Chanukah! As you receive this Shabbat message, you likely have already lit your first candle of Chanukah 5781!
And who doesn’t love Chanukah? It is, after all, the festival of lights. And we can all use more light in our lives as the days are shorter, even here in Arizona. And certainly, after the year of COVID-19. But did you know that Chanukah is not just for the Jewish people? It is actually for everyone. It is not the Jewish alternative to Christmas. The story of Chanukah, which tells of the historical battle between the Jewish Maccabi’s and the Syrian Greeks, a far larger and better equipped army, is captured in the Book of Maccabees One, written in Hebrew and the Book of Maccabees Two, written in Greek. And who canonized these historical books into their Bible? Not the Jewish people. These books are canonized in the Catholic and Coptic Churches.
So why didn’t the Rabbis canonize these books? Because though the victory of the smaller, ill-equipped Maccabees over the much mightier Syrian Greek army is inspiring to many, it is rather a bloody tale. The Rabbis of the time decided to focus on the oil that should have lasted one night in the temple as it was being rededicated, but lasted eight nights. Hence, the festival of lights.
This year has been anything but normal. We will press pause on ending 2020 with Mazelpalooza, while we press play to give back during NowGen’s Mitzvahpalooza! From December 21-30, we will be coordinating a week & a half of mitzvahs to help people in need. Let’s turn up the volume & give back when our community needs it the most! Participate in one or all of the drives:
- Food Drive Benefiting AZ Kosher Pantry
- Clothing Drive Benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters
- Toy & Book Drive Benefiting Underprivileged Families
- Health & Hygiene Drive Benefiting JFCS
Each donated item enters you into a raffle to win an iPad Air, $500 hotel/spa gift card or a $1000 restaurant gift card. Everyone will receive a NowGen New Year’s Eve Party Pack! Register for a time slot to drop off your donations at jewishphoenix.org/mitzvahpalooza. Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s Torah portion is Vayeishev (Dwelt) in the Book of Genesis. In it, we are introduced to Joseph and his technicolor dream coat. Joseph overcomes the jealousy of his brothers and the advances of Potiphar’s wife to become a dream interpreter while in prison, which sets the stage for better days ahead for Joseph.
As we exit the dark days of 2020, may the light of Chanukah and the acts of loving kindness emanating from NowGen’s Mitzvahpalooza, shine more and more light into our lives.
Wishing each of you and your loved ones a happy and healthy Chanukah.
Light candles Friday evening at 5:03pm
Shabbat ends Saturday evening at 6:02pm
President & Chief Executive Officer
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